August 11, 2007

What next?

Senator Russ Feingold: "The White House...has identified the one major remaining weakness in the Democratic Party, and that’s its unwillingness to stand up to the administration when it’s making a power grab regarding terrorism and national security. They have figured out that all they have to do is start talking about an imminent terrorist threat, back it up against a Congressional recess, and they know the Democrats will cave.”

He's right: Despite almost non-existent support for the president, and a set of hearings exposing Alberto Gonzales's incompetence and dishonesty, Democrats have now handed more power to the president and Gonzales. The Times has a useful, if depressing, account of how this happened here.

What I am wondering more and more these days is, what happens next? After 2008, will a new administration (from either party) diligently repair the various breaches in the walls that have traditionally limited the power of the presidency? Or will they discover that once you're in the White House, it's hard to bring yourself to shrink the scope of the office? This question is not getting very much attention so far in the presidential debate, but it really should.